Cream puffs are the perfect crowd-pleasing treat because absolutely everybody loves them. The pastry shells can be baked and frozen up to a month ahead of time, and the filling can be made and refrigerated a day or two ahead. When you’re ready to serve them, just whip up a batch of whipped cream, fold it into the pastry cream, and spoon or pipe it into the empty pastry shells. Finish with a quick sprinkling of confectioner’s sugar and get ready to be the hit of the party.
We'll start by making the pastry which is technically called pate a choux (sounds like pot-ah-shoo).
In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat water, milk, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.
While you're waiting for the mixture to boil, have the flour and eggs ready to go.
Okay, the milk mixture is just starting to boil - time to add the flour.
Add all the flour at once...
And stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed.
When all the liquid is absorbed, continue stirring constantly...
Until a smooth paste forms and pulls away from the sides of the pan. We're not quite there yet, but almost.
Just a few more moments and we're done. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the eggs, mixing one at a time, until no traces of raw egg remains. If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can stir the eggs in by hand - it’ll take some time, but you can do it.
Transfer the mixture to a large pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (like this one). I like to use disposable bags (like these). Using a star tip helps the pastry dough expand evenly in the oven.
I piped long skinny shapes for eclairs as well as round mounds for cream puffs, but didn’t get photos of the cream puff mounds - oops. You’ll figure it out though.
When the mounds are done baking, allow them to cool slightly, turn each puff upside down, poke a hole in the bottom with a paring knife or skewer, and allow excess steam to escape. Allow them to cool completely before cutting the pastry shells in half and proceeding with the recipe.
Note: if you plan to freeze the puffs for use later, flash freeze the cooled, uncut pastry shells for about an hour, then transfer to an airtight freezer-safe container for up to a month. Thaw overnight, in the refrigerator, inside the airtight container.
To assemble, cut the pastry shell puffs in half with a serrated knife and fill with a mixture made of 50% pastry cream and 50% sweetened whipped cream. You can spoon the mixture in, or you can use a pastry bag fitted with a pasty tip as shown.
Once filled, sprinkle with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar and serve immediately. Enjoy!
makes about 20
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
5 large eggs
confectioner's sugar for dusting
Filling (equal parts of each):
Preheat oven to 450F and place rack in center position.
In a 4-quart nonstick saucepan, heat the milk, water, butter, salt, and sugar until it boils.
Immediately add the flour and stir vigorously until all the liquid is absorbed by the flour and a paste forms; continue stirring constantly until the paste dries out and forms a ball that cleans the sides of the pan.
Transfer the paste to the bowl of a stand mixer or food processor and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is fully incorporated.
Transfer paste to a large disposable pastry bag that has been fitted with a large star tip (I used Ateco #826).
Pipe the paste into 3-inch round by 1-inch tall mounds on a silpat lined sheet pan; dust with confectioner's sugar.
Bake in 450F oven for 5 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and continue baking for 25 to 30 minutes more.
Remove from oven and allow to rest until they're cool enough to handle, then poke a couple of vent holes in the bottom and allow to cool completely.